BBC is accused of staging fight for gang documentary

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The Independent Online

The BBC has been accused of staging a fight between gangs of youths while filming a documentary on street violence and intimidation in Glasgow.

The BBC has been accused of staging a fight between gangs of youths while filming a documentary on street violence and intimidation in Glasgow.

The corporation has been condemned by Glasgow city council over the incident. The council said it had "no confidence" in the BBC4 documentary No Go Britain, which was shown last night.

The programme, extracts from which appeared on the Ten O'Clock News on Monday night, showed fighting with bottles and knives that took place on 15 October between rival gangs from Glasgow's Garthamlock and Ruchazie housing estates and left participants with bloodied faces and injured limbs.

But the row centres on filming on 20 October in the city's Tolcross Park, which was dropped from the final version of the documentary.

The council said that park rangers were summoned to Tolcross Park that night after seeing youths brandishing weapons, and an off-duty ranger reported witnessing the film crew choreographing a re- enactment of a fight.

Jim Clark, a council spokesman, said: "The methods by which the BBC obtained the footage give us serious grounds for concern. They tried to stage something for the cameras and [were] prevented by our park staff before they could do it. That is why the council leader is furious and there is a big spat going on."

A BBC producer said that the reason the park scenes were dropped was that the images obtained at Ruchazie housing estate were more powerful. But Glasgow city council regards the decision to drop the Tolcross material as tantamount to an admission of guilt.

Jim Coleman, the council's deputy leader, said: "Given they have decided not to show their filming in Tollcross Park, we can only guess how this latest filming may have been achieved. We have absolutely no confidence in this organisation."

No Go Britain's investigative journalist, Adrian Addison, said that he set out to explore "the devastation being caused by thugs, drunks and drug addicts". He said: "Glasgow city council are being complete arses. It is utter bullshit. They are just spinning to take the focus away from the issue. It is a smokescreen for their own inability to deal with the problem. If they were dealing with it we would not have a film."

The No Go Britain crew say that closed-circuit television pictures recorded by council-owned cameras confirm the veracity of their film.

Mr Addison said: "If they think what we used was faked in any way why don't they check their own film? The local divisional commander of Strathclyde Police told me that fights take place in that area all the time. The police were willing to go on the record to back us up but they were told to shut up."

A BBC spokesman confirmed yesterday that Glasgow city council had written to Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, to complain about No Go Britain. The corporation has not yet issued a formal reply.

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